Crass Jokes in your Screenplay

Don’t get me wrong, I’m as big a fan of crass humor as anyone else.  I love SOMETHING ABOUT MARY, and will see anything Apatow puts out.

If you’re just starting out as a screenwriter, however, loading your script up with crass jokes (comics call it “going blue”) is a risky move.

Why?  The biggest reason is that there are SO MANY scripts from new writers out there that go “blue.”  That means, you are directly competing with each and every one of them.

So what makes your poo jokes stand out from the rest?  Why would a producer want to buy your script filled with sex jokes, versus someone else?

If you’re going to go “blue,” you’d better do it well – otherwise it just reads as if you wrote down the first joke that came to mind.  It feels lazy.

And by “do it well” I mean, do it REALLY, REALLY, JOHN HOLMES-STYLE WELL.  You’ve got to LOVE the crass world you’re creating and revel in it.  Think Kevin Smith.  Think IN THE LOOP.  Go for it – and enjoy it – if you’re going to do it.

But most people tend not to want to go that way.

From what I read from new screenwriters, crass jokes litter an otherwise enjoyable script because that was the first joke the screenwriter thought of at the time, and it made them chuckle, so they left it in.

This is a VERY COMMON error.  Meaning: the joke you thought will probably not come across as original.  Two or three of these jokes, and it gets fairly tiring for the reader.  Remember: think about how you will make your script stand out from the rest.

And remember the mantra: First joke, worst joke.

Sure, it’s not always true, but when it comes to “blue” humor, it usually fits the bill. Rewrite that joke you thought was funny.  Especially if it it has “penis” in it.

“But Eric, my crass jokes are actually REALLY funny!”

I’m telling you, they’re probably not that funny, but hey, I could be wrong.  So prove me wrong: Get some actors and friends together and hold a live reading of your script.  Follow along with your script and mark down when they laughed.  Get their feedback.

What was the result?  Oh, they liked the jokes that arose from situations, and thought the crass jokes were bit cheap and easy?  Who would have guessed.  🙂

I won’t say I told you so. I’ll just say…

Onward!

-Eric

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